Russia Retaliates as Sanctions Over Ukraine Grow: Ukraine Update


(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin announced countersanctions as countries around the world piled up penalties against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government in Kyiv reported that civilians were killed by shelling in the second-largest city Kharkiv as fighting intensified across the nation.

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Britain stepped up its own sanctions, including telling ports not to service Russian-flagged vessels, while Poland warned Moscow may try to seal off part of Ukraine’s border with the European Union.

A Ukrainian delegation led by the defense minister held talks with Russian officials on the border with Belarus, while in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed doubt the negotiations can yield progress toward halting the violence and repeated a request for his country to be fast tracked into the EU. Russia’s currency and bonds plunged.

Key Developments

Ukraine Fighting Intensifies as Prospects for Russia Talks Dim

Ukraine Wants EU Membership But Accession Often Takes Years

Russia Erects Financial Defenses as Sanctions Hit Banks, Markets

Putin’s Nuclear Threat Has West Wondering Again If He’s Bluffing

China’s Muddled Ukraine Response Feeds Rare Domestic Debate

All times CET:

Northern Cities Kharkiv, Chernihiv Under Fire (5:53 p.m.)

Russian forces moved in on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where local television footage showed a barrage of missile strikes on a residential neighborhood. At least 11 people were killed and dozens wounded, the regional administration said. Russia has said it doesn’t target civilians.

In the northern city of Chernihiv, civilians were among those killed, according to the state emergency service. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were clashes in the city overnight.

Russia Has Yet to Win Air Superiority: U.S. Official (5:45 p.m.)

President Vladimir Putin has now committed almost 75% of his pre-staged forces in Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. defense official. Russia has yet to achieve air superiority, the official said, even as it employs combat power ranging from rockets, missiles and manned aircraft to mechanized forces, artillery and infantry.

Russia’s main advance to encircle the capital, Kyiv, remains slowed because of Ukrainian resistance, and logistics and resupply problems, the official said.

The heaviest assaults were still on Kharkiv as Russia employs siege tactics in its effort to encircle the city, and Ukrainians are using everything from small arms to surface-to-air missiles to resist the invasion, the official said.

Ruble Plunges, Commodities Rise as Sanctions Ramp Up (5:45 p.m.)

Traders struggled to price the ruble as international sanctions shook the country’s financial system. The Russian currency lost a third of its value in offshore trading at one point, its biggest-ever slump. It was down 16% at 98.235 as of 5:59 p.m. in Moscow, compared with 107.0642 on the offshore market — a 22% loss.

The central bank canceled local trading altogether in stocks and bonds as the price of Russian-linked shares and debt tumbled overseas. The latest developments also sent shockwaves through other equity markets, though U.S. and European indexes erased most of their losses through the day. Oil and gas prices pared gains after earlier surges.

U.K. Blocks Russian Ships from Docking at Ports (5:15 p.m.)

U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to all U.K. ports asking them not to provide access to any Russian vessels which are owned, chartered or operated by any Russian citizens or are flying the Russian flag. A spokesman for the Department for Transport could not provide any more details on what the measure would cost the Kremlin or individual Russians.

Ukraine Appeals to EU for Air Defense Systems: Official (4:43 p.m.)

The Ukrainian government has appealed to the EU for military hardware including air defense and anti-missile systems, as well as anti-tank weapons, according to an EU official familiar with the request, who declined to be named amid confidential discussions.

The requests from Kyiv also include howitzers, cannon, mortars, projectile launchers and automatic weapons, the official said. The request comes as the EU agreed to spend 450 million euros to supply military aid, including lethal weapons, to Ukraine.

Ukraine to Issue ‘War Bonds’

Ukraine plans to sell bonds to help fund its military resistance to Russia’s invasion. The auction of the one-year bonds will take place Tuesday, with the proceeds used “to ensure the uninterrupted provision of the state’s financial needs under the war.”

Poland Says Russia May Seek to Block Its Border With Ukraine (3:32 p.m.)

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned that Russia may attempt an attack from Belarus down the inside of Ukraine’s western border to block the country off with Poland, saying “we must act quickly” to deliver humanitarian aid.

As many as 100,000 people are expected to cross into Poland from Ukraine on a daily basis, the premier said. The Polish Interior Ministry expects arrivals of refugees from Ukraine to accelerate as Ukrainian border authorities waived exit screening procedures for women and children.

Macron Speaks With Putin by Phone (4:20 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron called Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to back an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, according to the French presidency. He also told Putin to end to all bombardments and attacks against civilians and residential areas and preserve civilian infrastructure, especially roads south of Kyiv. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Macron has repeatedly spoken with Putin in recent weeks to dissuade him from aggression against Ukraine, without positive result. The French leader also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy several times over the past hours.

Ukraine Urges Halt in Banknote Supply to Russia (3:40 p.m.)

The National Bank of Ukraine reached out to EU and Group of Seven nations, asking them to halt the flow of foreign currency banknotes to Russian and Belarusian banks.

“We hope that our peers and partners will help us exert additional pressure on” Russia and Belarus, Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko wrote in a letter seen by Bloomberg News. Belarus hosted Russian troops that entered Ukraine from the north last week.

IOC calls for Russian, Belarusian Expulsion from Competitions (3:35 p.m.)

The International Olympic Committee asked sports organizations to exclude all Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competition around the world. Russia broke the Olympic Truce by invading Ukraine, as did the government of Belarus in its support of the Kremlin, the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC also withdrew the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement, from Russian President Vladimir Putin and repeated its recommendation not to organize any sports events in Russia or Belarus.

U.S., Allies Considering Oil Reserve Release (3:20 p.m.)

The U.S. and its allies are considering a coordinated release of around 60 million barrels of oil from their stockpiles after Russia’s invasion pushed crude prices above $100, according to three people familiar with the matter. While no decisions have been made, the U.S. has been coordinating with International Energy Agency member nations.

Brent oil futures rose 3% on Monday after the latest sanctions raised worries that supply, which is already stretched, will tighten further should Russian flows be disrupted. European natural gas was up 12%, having earlier surged 36%.

Kharkiv Authorities Cite Dead, Wounded in Shelling (3:01 p.m.)

Authorities in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, said heavy shelling in residential areas killed and wounded civilians, according to the Ukrainska Pravda website. “It is a war, a real war,” Kharkiv’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, told Pravda. Clashes took place in multiple locations in the northeastern part of the city, near the Russian border, after Kremlin-led military units entered Kharkiv on Sunday, Pravda said.

Televised footage shared widely on social media showed a barrage of strikes on a residential neighborhood. Fighting also continued in the suburbs of Kyiv, the capital, as well as the northern city of Chernihiv.

Swiss to Enforce EU Sanctions With ‘Immediate Effect’ (2:55 p.m.)

The Swiss government announced it will enforce EU sanctions against hundreds of Russian lawmakers and other officials including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “with immediate effect.”

“Assets of the listed individuals and companies are now blocked,” the Swiss government said in a statement. Swiss airspace will also be closed to all aircraft “with Russian markings” from 3 p.m. today, the Swiss government said.

Russia Bans Airlines From 36 Countries From Its Airspace (2:30 p.m.)

Russia banned aircraft from 36 countries from its airspace, including all 27 members of the EU, in retaliation to a similar move from the bloc. The move makes a wide swath of Russia — a key route for travel between Europe and Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea — off-limits for carriers including Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa.

U.K. Says to Expect More Russia Sanctions Shortly (2:30 p.m.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the U.K. cabinet to expect further sanctions on Russia shortly, his spokesman, Max Blain, told reporters in London. The premier is still pushing for Russia to be fully excluded from the SWIFT system of international payments, Blain said.

“You can expect us to have further sanctions on individuals and businesses in the coming days and weeks,” Blain said. “We do think that Russia should be cut out not just economically, but culturally as well.”

Blain said the U.K. estimates that about 100,000 Ukrainians will be eligible to enter the country under plans unveiled by Johnson on Sunday to let in close family members of people already settled in the country.

U.S. Bans Transactions With Russian Central Bank (1:55 p.m.)

The U.S. on Monday banned people and companies from doing business with the Bank of Russia, the Russian National Wealth Fund and the Ministry of Finance. The Treasury Department said the actions effectively immobilize any Russian central bank assets held in the U.S. or by U.S. nationals.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the measures will “target the funds Putin and his inner circle depend on to enable his invasion of Ukraine.”

France to Target Yachts, Luxury Goods Under EU Sanctions (1:17 p.m.)

The government in Paris will scrutinize all financial assets – including real estate, yachts, luxury vehicles – that may belong to wealthy Russians targeted by EU sanctions, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said after a cabinet meeting in Paris. French authorities will be able to seize the property, he said.

Forbes Russia Says Website Hacked (1:30 p.m.)

Several Russian media outlets, including the state-run Tass news agency and Forbes Russia magazine, displayed messages calling on the people of Russia to stop the war in Ukraine when the sites were accessed by Bloomberg News reporters in Russia. Forbes Russia confirmed to Bloomberg News that its website had been hacked.

Kommersant newspaper’s site also appeared to have been compromised but later was accessible.

Over the weekend at least one government agency confirmed its website came under a DDoS attack, while several other official websites appeared to suffer similar disruptions.

More Than 500,000 Refugees Have Fled Ukraine, UN Official says (10:42 a.m.)

The number of people fleeing Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began has crossed the half-million point, Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said on Twitter. UN agencies said last week the figure could climb to as many as 4 million.

Most of those have crossed into the EU, where the four member states bordering Ukraine have registered a surge in arrivals. Poland recorded the most at 281,000 since Feb. 24, while Hungarian officials have counted 85,400. Romania puts the number of Ukrainian citizens crossing into the country at 70,000. Slovakia had taken in as many as 35,000 as of Sunday.

Ukraine Asks EU to Accept its Membership Bid (10:51 a.m.)

Zelenskiy asked the EU to immediately accept Ukraine into the bloc. “I am sure it is fair. I am sure we deserve this. I am sure that all this is possible,” he told reporters at a briefing at the presidential office.

Accession to the EU is a long and arduous process, which requires the candidate country to adopt established EU law as well as to enact reforms — including to its judicial and economic systems — to meet the bloc’s criteria. The move also requires the unanimous approval of all EU members, the European Commission and the European Parliament as well as the representatives of all existing member states.

Croatia was the last country to join the EU. It applied for membership in 2003 and was granted it in 2013.

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